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The end of disposable plastic bags

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The decree putting an end to disposable plastic bags is published today in the official gazette. This text gives substance to the Ministry of Ecology's ambition to reduce the considerable environmental impacts linked to the production and distribution of these bags. This ban was provided for in the Energy Transition Law passed in August 2015 and is the latest phase in a long process that began in 2003...
 
Ansingle-use plastic bags will therefore be banned at checkouts as of July 1, 2016. This applies to bags less than 50 micrometers thick, regardless of volume, free of charge or subject to a charge, and applies to all businesses: specialised food (bakeries, butchers, etc.), small and large stores, petrol stations, pharmacies, indoor and outdoor markets, etc.
 
Five billion single-use plastic bags are distributed at the checkout counter each year, and 12 billion are consumed for other uses outside the checkout process. Of this total, 2.6 billion are manufactured in France, the rest (80 %) being mostly imported from Asia, since 1/3 of the pollution comes from China. 
 
Alternative solutions to plastic checkout bags are now known and proven:
- use of reusable bags whatever their material; 
- other forms of packaging of goods (e.g. shopping bags, nets or trolleys).
 
Other countries, such as Finland, Denmark and Ireland, have already reduced the consumption of single-use carrier bags to less than 30 bags per inhabitant per year. 
 
The stakes of this vacuum cleaning are twofold. Firstly, to reduce the pollution caused by the tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic abandoned each year in the wild and to reduce the mortality of the 260 animal species that inadvertently ingest it, and secondly, to limit our dependence on oil and boost the bioplastic industry. 
The stakes related to the considerable consumption and importation of single-use bags used for weighing fruit and vegetables and packaging of food products also justify that measures be taken quickly to reduce their impact. 
 
Ségolène Royal reminds us that non-biodegradable plastic bags are used for a few minutes but take several hundred years to degrade, and are ingested by marine animals and birds. 75 % of waste abandoned at sea is plastic. The most emblematic case is that of sea turtles, who confuse plastic bags with jellyfish: 86 % of sea turtle species are affected by this phenomenon. Birds are also very concerned: in the North Sea, the stomachs of 94 % of birds contain plastic. In all, more than 260 species are affected by plastic bags.
 

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3000 jobs created

By replacing the bags used for fruit and vegetables with bio-sourced and compostable bags, the law on energy transition for green growth represents a real opportunity to create 3,000 jobs in an innovative sector for French companies.  
The development of new biosourced plastics will make it possible, taking into account jobs in research and development, the cultivation of plants that will serve as a basis for raw materials, the production of new resins composed of plant material and the plants manufacturing the biosourced products, to create around 6,000 jobs in the country.   
Today, 2.6 billion of the 17 billion single-use bags consumed are currently manufactured in France.  
The 2.6 billion bags in France are divided between approximately Innovative French companies engaged in the production of bio-sourced and compostable bags :
- SPhere Group: It produces garbage bags, freezer bags and checkout bags from recycled material. 
- Company Styl Pack: Manufactures 9 million bio-sourced compostable plastic bags for home composting per year. 
- Limagrain: This agricultural co-operative produces pellets that can be used to make biosourced compostable bags for individual composting. 
- Bagherra Group: It currently supplies 7 million biosourced and compostable bags for domestic compost in France. 
- Barbier Group: It already produces home compostable bio-sourced fruit and vegetable bags. 
- Vegeplast: It manufactures biosourced coffee capsules. 
- Elipso: Association of flexible plastics and packaging converters. 
 
This decree opens up concrete prospects that will enable the bio-plastics industry to invest in production tools to meet future demand. Manufacturers in the sector will therefore be ready for the January 1, 2017 deadline. The implementation of this long-awaited law will ensure the sustainable development of the bioplastics industry and will create several thousand jobs. It will moreover ensure to France a position of future leader in the sector of biodegradable plastics of vegetable origin.
The president of the Bio-plastics Club expressed his satisfaction in these terms:  "On behalf of the members of the Bio-plastics Club, I would like to welcome the publication of the decree and the implementation of such a measure that we have been waiting for a long time. Beyond this measure, we welcome the provisions of the Energy Transition Law concerning the impetus given to selective collection for the organic recovery of bio-waste. Biosourced and compostable bags are perfectly adapted collection tools and will thus be able to contribute effectively to its optimization. While actively contributing to its development, we therefore hope for a rapid spread of this new recovery method throughout the country". explains Christophe Doukhi-de Boissoudy.
 

This ban is therefore a key step before the ban on non-crate plastic bags or packaging containing foodstuffs on 1 January 2017. Only "bio-sourced" bags (with a content of vegetable matter - potato starch, maize - gradually increasing over time) that can be composted in domestic composting will be allowed to be used for these purposes. 
 
 
 

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